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From Baby to Big Kid

An e-newsletter that showcases how children learn and grow each month from birth to 3 years. From Baby to Big Kid translates the science of early childhood and offers strategies parents can tailor to their unique family situation and to the needs of their child.
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School Readiness

0-12 Months12-2424-36


Parent-Child Activities That Promote Self-Control

  • Play Red Light, Green Light.  Cut 2 large circles from red paper and green paper.  Glue them together.  Write “go” on the green circle and “stop” on the red.  If you’d like, glue on a popsicle stick to serve as a handle.  Have your child stand at the end of a hallway with you at the other end.  Explain the rules:  When you hold up the green circle he can take steps forward; when you hold up the red, he has to stop.  When he gets close enough to hug you, he wins.  Games like this, which involve following directions and resisting the impulse to run forward, help children practice self-control.

  • Use pretend play to act out feelingsChoose one of your child’s favorite stuffed animals or dolls and have it get a boo-boo and start crying.  Ask your child: What can you do to make the baby feel better?  Encourage caring responses like rubbing the doll’s back or giving the doll a hug and kiss. Role-playing in this way helps children “practice” self-control and develop empathy.

  • Make play a challenge.  Offer your child the chance to try a more challenging game—for example, walking along a line that you have taped on the floor in masking tape, or to hop from one point to another.  She may succeed the first time or she may need several tries to master the game.  Help your child cope with her frustration if this task doesn’t come easily.  Encourage her to keep at it, and let her know that learning a new skill takes time.





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The most important thing about the activities you do with your baby is that they're fun for both of you.  But sometimes these activities can also help babies learn new things.  Are there any games or songs that your baby loves, and that also help him build on his growing sense of self control?  Please share them with us!  We'd love to post a few of our visitors' ideas on this site.


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